The Army private sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking reams of classified information to WikiLeaks issued a statement Thursday as a transgender woman. The soldier asked to be called Chelsea Manning instead of Bradley Manning and stated a desire for hormone therapy. Here are some questions and answers about this change:
When did Manning come to this realization?
According to Manning's online chats with confidant-turned-informant Adrian Lamo, it was in the first few months of Manning's deployment to Iraq, which started in October 2009. Manning spent a few days cross-dressed while on leave in the United States in January-February 2010 and created Twitter and YouTube accounts under the name Breanna Manning. Manning revealed the female persona in a photograph emailed to an Army supervisor in April 2010, about a month before his arrest for the WikiLeaks disclosures. The Bradley Manning Support Network said in July 2012 that as far as it knew, Manning wanted to be called Brad or Bradley "until he's able to get to the next stage of his life."
What will prison conditions be like for Manning?
Fort Leavenworth, Kan., is an all-male prison but the staff has some leeway to separate soldiers from the other inmates based on the risk to themselves and others, prison spokesman George Marcec said. Advocates said gays and transgender people are more susceptible to sexual assault and other violence in prison.
How can Manning dress in prison?
Leavenworth is an all-male prison. Uniforms are brown, usually "heavily starched," and inmates can buy their own shoes, which is where their fashion individuality shows, Marcec said. He said Manning won't be allowed to wear a wig or bra. Manning's hair will have to be kept to military standards, Marcec said.
Can Manning get hormone therapy in military prison?
Army spokesman George Wright said the Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery. He said soldiers behind bars are given access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
What does Manning's lawyer say?
Defense attorney David Coombs told NBC's "Today Show" he will do "everything in my power" to make sure Manning gets his way. Military legal experts say that if Fort Leavenworth officials don't provide the hormone treatment, Coombs may seek to have Manning moved to a civilian federal prison, where hormone therapy is offered to those with gender-identity disorder.